Josephine Co. Commissioners still working on cannabis ordinance

Josephine County, Ore. — Josephine County Commissioners are continuing to look at ordinances relating to pot grows in rural areas of the county.

They held a public hearing Wednesday which resulted in heated debate from both sides.

Josephine County Commissioners heard from nearly 50 Josephine County residents about their concerns.

It’s a very controversial topic with strong opinions on both sides.

“It’s a group of growers here in Josephine County who have decided they need to protect their property rights,” Attorney Ross Day said.

Ross Day is an attorney representing those who feel their private property rights would be violated if new rules regulating marijuana are passed by commissioners.

“The law says that the rights you have at the time you acquire your property are the rights you have until you sell it,” Day said.

Many from the newly created organization called F.A.R.M.S. — or Farming and Agricultural Rights Management Society — attended the public hearing for the ordinance Wednesday morning.

“They’d be given 30 days to come into compliance,” Day said.

The ordinance currently states marijuana in rural residential zones would be prohibited on a lot of five acres or less with the exception of 12 personal mature plants.

However, after hearing public input, Commissioner Dan DeYoung says they plan to get rid of the specific five-acre stipulation.

“The rules should be the same for all rural residential whether it’s one acre, two and a half acres, five, ten, twenty-nine,” Commissioner DeYoung said.

Commissioners decided Wednesday to wait a week before passing the ordinance, to make a few minor changes to topics like the sound levels allowed on grows.

One Grants Pass resident says she’d love to see the ordinance pass as it is.

“If something should happen to us and we have to sell that property to take care of us while we’re in a nursing home or whatever, our property values have gone down. Our investment values have gone down,” Grants Pass resident Shirley Huft said.

Meanwhile, a Selma resident who is against the ordinance is also worried about her property since she and her husband spent much of their retirement savings on their new grow.

“We’ve spent well over 80 thousand dollars in the past two years just on the grow operation,” Judi Scharns said.

Commissioner DeYoung says he understands many grows aren’t doing anything wrong.

“The people that are in there that testified today for the most part are the people that are actually doing it right,” DeYoung said.

But he says some regulations need to be made, to prevent grows that aren’t in compliance from getting out of control.

“There’s an awful lot of nuances with the cannabis industry. It’s new, but however, we’re gonna get through this,” DeYoung said.

While public testimony is over, commissioners will be using the following week to make their changes to the ordinance.

Commissioners will discuss the issue again on December 6th.

They plan to make a decision then.

F.A.R.M.S. says if the decision violates land-use rules, it will appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

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